2017-03-24 training log

Pretty good, pretty good.

Pressing went well. Set an 8-rep PR with the top set, which I was happy about. I must say, getting back to doing rep-PRs has put my mind at ease a bit, because the past 3 5/3/1-cycles felt heavy. They were fresh after a reset, so they shouldn’t have felt heavy, but it started to make me wonder if I was going to have to reset soon (typically it’s 5-8 cycles before a reset). But hitting things like I have this week has made me feel like things are on track.

The pyramid-down sets are killer. It’s basically 3 sets of AMRAP, and they are taking a lot out of me. It’s good stuff tho (well, apart from having to refigure how I’ll handle deadlift day). Interesting thing was on the last set what I felt give out first was my deltoids, which usually aren’t the first thing to give. Interesting.

From Tuesday’s bench day I had opted to readjust how much pulling I do superset with pressing, and to move my additional back exercise instead to be superset with the “other” pressing exercise. So I opted to do the same here, and I dug that. Flows better.

Dips were funny. I haven’t done them in forever and was pretty trashed after the pressing, so I wasn’t sure how many I could do (plus I weigh more). On the first dip, I got to the bottom and collapsed. ūüôā My body was like “what the hell are you doing?” But then I remembered better cues about keeping tight and so on, so I continued along. In fact you can see that the later 2 sets had a couple more reps because body mechanics came back. LOL

The shrugs are a trial. As I’ve said before, I’m trying to work all my assistance to have that fast, explosive concentric and a slower eccentric (I realized this morning the tempo is akin to Jairo, from “Bob’s Burgers”, going “TIGHT! and relax…”). Shrugs generally have been a consistent tempo for me, so I wanted to start a little light to find what would work here, since this tempo does change how things go. I still am too light, but I think I know where to go from here.

Front plate raises were simply 25#, all the way over the head, AMRAP. Good stuff.

And then a little arm work. Which again, that tempo. I found it hard to remember to do the tempo with the skullcrushers because they start with eccentric. But gee if this sort of “TIGHT! and relax‚Ķ” tempo isn’t working nicely.

Anyways, I thought this was a good session. The new routine is generally ok. A few adjustments, and we’ll see how they go next week.

  • Press (superset with pulldowns)
    • bar x whatever
    • 70 x 5
    • 90 x 5
    • 110 x 3
    • 115 x 5
    • 135 x 5
    • 155 x 8 (8 rep PR)
    • 135 x 10 (AMRAP)
    • 115 x 10 (AMRAP)
  • Lat Pulldowns (pronated grip, to chest)
    • 105 x 12
    • 115 x 12
    • 125 x 12
    • 135 x 12
    • 135 x 12
    • 135 x 12
    • 135 x 10
    • 135 x 10
  • Dips (superset with shrugs)
    • BW x 6
    • BW x 8
    • BW x 8
  • DB Shrugs
    • 50e x 15
    • 60e x 15
    • 70e x 15
  • Front Plate Raises (all the way above head)
    • 25 x 25
    • 25 x 15
    • 25 x 11
  • Skullcrushers
    • 65 x 12
    • 65 x 12
    • 65 x 10
  • Hammer Curl
    • 35e x 10
    • 35e x 10
    • 35e x 10

2017-03-23 training log


So first deadlift session of the new program and oh man…

Deadlifts themselves went well. It really reinforces how much I like going for rep PRs. Today’s top set did set a 10 rep PR for me. I wanted to stick with double-overhand grip as long as I could, and I did, then switched to mixed grip to finish things out.

The pyramid down sets. Oof. They were good, but it was rather evident that pushing towards “failure” was starting to blow up my lower back. Good way, but still. I certainly stopped not because of my legs, but because the lower back said that was enough. So I guess there’s a weak point. ūüėČ

I wanted to continue working back down, thinking that going for failure with the warm-up weights would just be high-rep silly. So instead, switch to RDL to continue the work down. Nope. Again, the lower back had enough. In fact, I couldn’t finish. I went down for the 2nd set of RDLs and my body said “don’t be stupid”.

I tried doing hypers. Nope.

Now, if I sat and rested a good 15-20 minutes, things would have been fine to continue, but I don’t have that sort of time. I just did my leg curls and packed it up (forgot to do my ab work).

So I’m not sure what to do.

Part of me thinks I should just do the top set AMRAP and then leave it alone. Switch to something else that does more hamstring work, like maybe just RDL for higher reps (6-10). Or I may just stick with this, maybe instead of RDL in fact work the rest of the way down with conventional deadlifts. Don’t know right now. Going to have to think about this.

  • Deadlift
    • 170 x 5
    • 210 x 5
    • 250 x 3
    • 275 x 5
    • 315 x 5
    • 355 x 10 (10 rep PR)
    • 315 x 7
    • 275 x 7
  • RDL
    • 250 x 4
  • Hyperextensions
    • BW x nope
  • Leg Curls
    • 35 x 12
    • 35 x 12
    • 35 x 12
  • Crunches
    • forgot….

Beyond the One Percent

My bossman, Karl Rehn of KR Training presented at the 2017 Rangemaster Tactical Conference.

His presentation was: Beyond the One Percent. The presentation looks at firearms ownership vs. firearms training. How many (or rather, how few) people actually participate in training. Why people participate in training, and why they do not. And what we as trainers can do to increase participation.

The presentation was well-received and I know¬†of at least one high-profile group¬†already putting Karl’s teachings into practice.

Even if you’re not a firearms trainer, there’s a lot of fascinating data about firearms ownership and training in his presentation. Well worth the read.

He’ll be publishing his presentation in parts. Here’s part 1.

Grip Adjustment

For the past some while, I’ve been working on gripping the pistol; especially weak-hand-only.

Of course, the general rule is to grip the gun as hard as you can, that so-called “crush-grip”. But it really wasn’t enough, and it’s not like I have a problem with grip strength.

It’s more a matter of technique (tho strength matters too).

Of course, when I grip, the harder I grip the better. There’s less disruption of the gun when the trigger is pressed, better recoil management, etc.. But there are some tricks.

One I learned back in my empty-hand martial arts days: engage the pinky. We tend to focus our grip with our thumb, index, and middle fingers. Yes the ring and pinky fingers wrap around things, but¬†many times they aren’t involved in the crush. Try it. Grab something like you normally would and grip it hard.¬†Maintain that grip, then see how much more you can engage your pinky in the grip. Chances are you’ll find you were able to clamp down a little more. Makes a big difference. I know to do this, but it doesn’t mean I always do it.

But the one that finally dawned on me is how and with what I’m crushing.

I am realizing that the primary force of my crushing ‚Äď with my shooting hand ‚Äď is¬†against the front and back straps of the grip. There isn’t a lot of crush-force against the sides. This is primarily because of the way my hands are¬†shaped: larger¬†hands, long fingers, thin fingers. So wrapping my hand around the grip basically “tents” my hand (where the phalanges end and the metacarpals begin) and that part of my hand is NOT in contact with the grip. Well, there’s some touching of skin to grip, but again it’s the hinging of the hand right there, why I described it as a “tent”. That when the hand is crushing against the front and back straps, it pushes the metacarpophalangeal joint away from the grip. As a result, there’s not much force in that area involved in gripping, or even just skin in useful friction contact with the grip.

Part of why I didn’t notice it was because in two-handed shooting, the shooting hand can grip the front and back, but then the other hand wrapping around provides that side-pressure. So first you get the all-around clamping pressure, second your shooting-hand comes in full contact with the grip so tactile feedback is your shooting hand is “fully gripping” the pistol ‚Äď when actually it’s only fully touching.¬†Then when I would go to shoot one-handed, I’d just work to clamp harder, ensure pinky engagement, and the like (and also some “touching” feedback); not necessarily thinking about the all-around grip force.

So I’ve been playing around with this. That when I grip the gun, I work to actually wrap my hand around the grip instead of just “clamping” on it. Get as much skin contact with the grip as possible (for friction and thus aid with recoil management, if nothing else), and then make sure there’s¬†more involvement of the whole hand in the crushing of the grip.¬†It’s hard to explain, but basically ensuring that it’s not just a front-back clamping pressure, but an all-around squeezing pressure.

It’s actually harder for me to do this shooting 2-handed than 1-handed, so it’s resulting in a bit more one-handed practice (which is a good thing). I get better feedback that I’m doing it right or not, if I just practice 1-handed. For sure when I do this, the results in shooting are greatly improved.

The funny thing? The more abrasive grip texture on the M&P9 M2.0 has helped me realize this.

More things to continue working on.

2017-03-21 training log

Another PR, but I’m going to need to make some adjustments.

Overall, I’m liking this updated approach. I’m getting the strength work, some volume, taking advantage of compound movements for training efficiency.

Benching went well. On the top set, I really should have stopped at 10, but I knew if I wanted to set a rep PR here that I needed 11 so I went for it. I almost missed, but I did get it. The pyramid sets are really where I should go more towards failure, and I did. Good work here.

I’m happy then how the DB pressing went; good weight selection, right where I wanted it.

But all the back work. While I’m happy about doing the rows, I’m not happy about how it went. I went too light on the weight. Problem was I knew I was going to be doing a TON of sets across, so I was trying to pace for that. It wound up not being enough. I went for 10 reps across as well. Next time I’ll bump 5# and go for 12 reps and see how that goes.

But as well, I wasn’t really happy with how things went for the Kroc Rows. It’s just timing of it all.

So I’m also going to change up such that the cable rows are during benching, and Kroc during the DB bench. I think that should actually work out quite well.

On upright rows, I was going to do them with a barbell, but remembered something Mike Israetel posted some time ago about DB upright rows (see his post here). I recall wanting to try them to see what difference it made, so today seemed as good a day as any. Plus, one issue I have with barbell upright rows is the bar promotes a static hand placement/spacing, which can irritate my shoulders if not “just right”; but no such problem would exist with dumbbells. After performing them, I think of it like this: you have bench press and flies, and you have upright rows and lateral raises. But somewhere in between you have power flies, and I’d say these DB upright rows are akin to that — like a power lateral raise. I certainly had less arm recruitment, which I dug. I’m still going to need to find the sweet-spot on them. But I certainly felt more work in the delts than normal. I don’t think I’ll stop doing upright rows with a barebell, but this seems like a nice change. I’ll stick with it and see how it goes.

Overhead triceps extensions were a nice change too. I get more range of motion, and it was tougher than the normal “pushdown” approach.

And BB curls were with an EZ-bar, narrow grip. Just get a little work and finish some pump.

All in all not a bad setup. Again, some adjustment will be needed going forward, but all in all good.

  • Bench Press (superset cable rows)
    • bar x whatever
    • 105 x 5
    • 130 x 5
    • 155 x 3
    • 170 x 5
    • 195 x 5
    • 220 x 11 (11 rep PR)
    • 195 x 8
    • 170 x 10
  • DB Bench Press (superset with cable rows)
    • 75e x 10
    • 75e x 9
    • 75e x 8
  • Cable Rows
    • 90 x 10
    • 100 x 10
    • 110 x 10
    • 120 x 10
    • 120 x 10
    • 120 x 10
    • 120 x 10
    • 120 x 10
    • 120 x 10
    • 120 x 10
    • 120 x 10
  • Kroc Row
    • 50 x 10
    • 50 x 10
    • 50 x 25
  • DB Upright Row
    • 30e x 10
    • 25e x 15
    • 25e x 12
  • Overhead Rope Extensions
    • 50 x 20
    • 60 x 12
    • 60 x 12
  • BB Curl
    • 55 x 15
    • 55 x 13
    • 55 x 9

2017-03-20 training log

Back to the gym, starting off with a nice PR.

A couple weeks ago I spoke with my doctor about my knee pain. Firste step was to take a steroid anti-inflammatory and rest to see how things went. I took all of last week off — no gym, no nothing — and I must say my knees have never been happier. Thing is, I am not 100% sure what to attribute it to.

First there was the anti-inflammatory, which I’m sure was a huge help. Second, I rested. But it wasn’t just not going to the gym, but continued focus on more sleep at night and naps during the day. Third, I’m drinking a LOT more water than before. I am pretty good about my water consumption, but it was evident I could up it more so I did. Did that help? Sure doesn’t hurt, but I am not sure if it has any correlation here.

The one consideration I had on this new program was going 3x/week instead of 4. Right now, I’ve decided to stick with 4 because I’ve alread changed enough things. Plus I want to see how this new approach will go, because I’m trying to manage volume and workload so that I get the work I need, but not more.

So with that, into today.

The primary change with this new approach is not following a template, but principles of what I need. 5/3/1 remains the base, but I do what I need.

First, squats worked up to a rep-PR. In fact, it was truly a rep PR, setting an 8RM PR. Unexpected, but happy. Crazy thing is that while the week off did not reduce my strength, it sure reduced my work capacity. I was surprised how much I was sucking wind. Not a huge setback, but more than normal. I am always amazed at how long it takes to build work capacity, but how easy it is to lose it.

Pause squats are just what I needed. It allows me to continue to get squat work in, but less intensity. So it beats me up less, but I can still work on technique and volume. I found myself feeling good in my lower half after the pause squats: worked but not killed.

On the technique front, someone mentioned to me that I break with my knees. I played with this some, working to emphasize breaking with my hips first. So at the top, break hips then go down, and in the hole make sure the hips raise first. When I did this I didn’t feel as much stress on my knees; but when I forgot, I did feel more stress on my knees. Interesting. I’m going to break out my copy of Starting Strength again and re-read Rip’s writing on squatting since he’s a “hips” guy. If this helps my knees, great. And this is another good reason for the pause squats, since I can get more technique work.

As for the rest of the work, it was a “depends”. I know that unilateral work is good for my knees, but I’m not sure how much I can take right now — I don’t want to have healed up and then go right back to trashing them. So I opted to try just a couple sets of lunges then a couple sets of leg extensions. The lunges were ok, and I think I will work up to 4 sets of “many reps” at bodyweight before I bother with adding weight. I also think I will continue with leg extensions, but really drop the weight down. My technique here was to purely contract the quads, fast concentric, hold/squeeze for a moment, then slow lowering. Nothing huge (e.g. 10 second eccentric), just a focus like that. I want to lower the weight even more, get a lot more reps in — go for a pump, get a lot of blood in the area.

So I’ll continue to refine, but so far so good. Nice start to the new program.

  • Squats
    • bar x whatever
    • 135 x 5
    • 170 x 5
    • 205 x 3
    • 220 x 5
    • 255 x 5
    • 290 x 8 (8RM PR)
  • Pause Squat
    • 220 x 5
    • 220 x 5
    • 220 x 5
  • Lunges
    • BW x 10e
    • BW x 10e
  • Leg Extensions
    • 60 x 10
    • 50 x 10
  • Twisting Crunches
    • BW x 16
    • BW x 16
    • BW x 12

Sunday Metal – Kreator

Another recent release that I’ve really been digging: Kreator’s “Gods of Violence”.

Here’s the opening track: “World War Now”


Choosing to get involved – Do you know the full story?

Following up from yesterday’s¬†article,¬†Choosing to Get Involved, here’s a case illustrating why choosing to get involved in someone else’s problem¬†can be problematic.

The gun incident happened last March. [Daniel Ray] Brown and his mother were eating near Hanes Mall in Winston-Salem when he saw a white man, screaming for help, being chased by two black men.

Brown… would later tell authorities that he thought the pursuers were drug dealers, or possibly loan sharks, and that the white man was in trouble.


According to Winston-Salem police, Brown ‚Äúattempted to stop the struggle by pointing a handgun.‚ÄĚ

One of the black men, Fredrick Morgan, testified that Brown pointed his gun at the group and demanded that the scuffling trio show ID.

When the three men wouldn’t listen, Brown fired a bullet into the ground a few feet in front of Morgan.

Daniel Ray Brown sees someone being chased by two people and screaming for help. Obviously the person being chased is the victim and the two other people are assailants bent on causing harm to the person they are chasing.


That’s¬†obvious to anyone viewing this.


It wasn’t until after Brown had made a new hole in the asphalt that he learned the truth. The white man was mentally ill and had fled from two care workers. The chase was their attempt to corral him near Hanes Mall.

Full article (h/t Hank G. Shepherd)

Getting involved in someone else’s problem¬†resulted in Brown being arrested and convicted of assault by pointing a gun and discharging a firearm within city limits. He also lost his carry permit.

And someone could have lost their life, because a gun is deadly force. Warning shots are not sound (and generally not legal) tactics ‚Äď no matter what former Vice-President Joe Biden says; and they are still considered use of deadly force.

This is one reason it’s difficult to get involved in someone else’s situation. You often¬†will¬†not know what you are seeing unfold in front of you.¬†What you are seeing is likely a¬†mere¬†sliver of the full story, and your decisions may well put you on the wrong side of the facts. Your involvement may make the situation better, or it may make it worse.¬†No matter what the real story is, whatever you then choose to you, you have to live with the consequences of your actions. Mr. Brown now has a lifetime to have to live with his.

I understand a desire to “do something” and to help people.¬†We generally want to right wrongs and see justice served. But in doing so, we have to tread carefully because once we choose to get¬†involved, we’re in it and¬†the consequences of our involvement are ours to live with. I’m not saying to not get involved ‚Äď we each have to draw our lines as to what we will and won’t do, where we will and won’t get involved. What I am saying is it’s important to understand¬†what you see may not be what you think, so consider that when you do make your decisions.


Choosing to get involved

Greg¬†Ellifritz posted an article, “Lessons Learned From My Good Samaritan Attempt“. The article¬†is written by a man who witnessed a woman being beaten on the side of the road. He chose to intervene in the situation. While things generally worked out ok (the attacker¬†was arrested and convicted), the whole situation didn’t turn out like so many¬†people’s heroic fantasies.

All my previous firearms training revolved around identifying an imminent threat, shooting to stop the threat if necessary, and then hopefully moving on with my life. It was all a pretty simple equation in my mind. However, the reality of my incident that day after Christmas was far different. It was not a simple equation. It was quite complex and has taken over two years to resolve.

That’s the first thing to note: it’s taken over¬†two years to resolve.

But that’s just the beginning.

He notes the media coverage, and¬†because “The Internet is Forever”, how his story basically has never and likely will never go away. It will always affect his life.

He notes the disruption to his sleep and health. In doing so, one particular comment stood out to me:

Ripple effects of the incident are everywhere, and I never considered that aspect of it in my prior training, because everything focused on surviving the encounter, not the aftermath. Keep in mind, I didn’t even have to fire a shot! I can’t imagine how these problems would manifest themselves if I had been forced to take a human life.

Emphasis added.

Everyone likes to focus on the pew-pew-pew. It’s easy to focus on, it’s something that people can easily understand a need or desire for, and it’s fun. To focus on things like dealing with the aftermath of a self-defense incident is not fun. It’s uncomfortable to face, to think about, to plan for.¬†Often people don’t want to plan for it because denial is easier. Consider: if you’re getting/carrying a gun because you think you might need it, then realize there may come a day when in fact you will.¬†The incident itself will last seconds, but the aftermath will last the rest of your life.¬†Are you set up to deal with that?

Being set up to deal with that can be the legal aspects. One reason I’m thankful I’m a member of the Armed Citizens Legal Defense Network¬†‚Äď they were there for me when I needed them. If I didn’t have them, I don’t know how things would have gone but I suspect not as well.

Being set up to deal with the aftermath also involves the mental and emotional realities. Being able to live with¬†yourself, being able to live with how¬†people will perceive you for the rest of your life. How your family will be perceived and how people may interact with them. A book like Alexis Artwohl and Loren¬†Christensen’s¬†Deadly Force Encounters:¬†What Cops Need To Know To Mentally And Physically Prepare For And Survive A Gunfight,while oriented towards law-enforcement, contains an immense amount of useful information for anyone that may find themselves in such a situation. And yes, ideally it’s a book to read before you need it.

And being set up to deal with the aftermath means being honest with yourself and the harsh realities that may come from self-defense. Have you determined where your line is? In reading this article, I was left with the impression the author didn’t have a well-defined line, but does now. Where we draw our lines will differ from person to person, and likely you will and¬†should revise where and how you draw your line over the course of your life (e.g. you may draw it differently when you’re single vs. when you’re married with children). The important part is to figure this out well in advance of having to put it into play.

There’s much to learn from Aaron’s story. Be wise and learn from his experience.

Shooting without my glasses

A couple days ago I wrote about Reduced Vision Shooting.¬†I¬†was able to go to the range and¬†try shooting without my glasses. Here’s how it went.

My Vision

I don’t know what my vision is in terms of “20/something”, but I know¬†I’m extremely near-sighted. Around 9″ or so from my eyes is where things start to get blurry. Of course, I can take off my glasses, see, and generally get around, just don’t expect me to read anything; and after a certain level, things just become blurry blobs. I must have glasses in order to drive.

So yes, it’s a legitimate concern for me as to how I can perform without my glasses.

I have to go without my glasses from time to time. For example, most any martial arts training I do is done without my glasses. I do just fine. I can see well enough to punch, kick, grapple, whatever.

But shooting? That tends to require a bit more precision.


I set up an IPSC target and decided a fair metric would be the KR Training “3 Seconds or Less” drill. That’s our home-base¬†bottom line drill for measuring “can you do what needs to generally be done in a typical gunfight”.

I started my range session shooting it cold, because that’s a common thing for me to do.

Then I took off my glasses and shot it again. I didn’t do any sort of warm-up or trial shots without my glasses, and while part of me wishes I did, I’m also glad I didn’t because I suspect the¬†learning impact was better this way.

First, I had no problems. Shot the drill fine.

But what got me was what I could see and what I couldn’t see.

First, what I could see? The red dot of my front sight. I have Dawson¬†Precision sights, specifically a red fiber optic front sight. It was a shining beacon to me when I couldn’t see anything else. The sights themselves were a fuzzy blur, but that red dot was bright (tho of course kinda fuzzy) and attracted my eyes ‚Äď precisely what it’s supposed to do (on this sunny day). No¬†question that helped me.

I found myself a bit thrown off by this. I didn’t expect that to be such a beacon. But what got me? I found myself fiddling with my eyes. I typically have to close my left eye, but now I found myself wanting to keep both eyes open, or switch to my right. I can’t¬†say why I was doing this, but given my vision was looking at novel and unknown things, my brain may have just been trying to make sense of things.

Still, this is where things like good body index come into play. Again, I had no problems putting holes where they needed to be put because 1. I know generally where to point, 2. while you can miss at close distances, one doesn’t have to have that textbook perfect sight picture to get good hits (at close distances).

All in all I’m happy with the performance. It was a little odd for me to experience since I can’t recall the last time I tried shooting without my glasses, thus why part of me wanted to have a little “warm-up”. But again I’m glad I didn’t because I think being forced into it made me have to perform,¬†ignoring any weirdness from the experience.

I do think occasionally dry-firing without my glasses would be useful, and every so often some live fire too.

How about you?